All Posts Tagged: church
As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. John 20:21
The church is like a wagon wheel. It is people (spokes) attached to Jesus (hub), kept in alignment with Him and each other by the Mentor (the outer rim). A wheel is designed for movement!
“As the Father sent me….” Jesus was on A Mission from God. When He called His twelve friends, He gave but one instruction: “Come, follow Me!” (Matthew 4:19) Whenever and wherever Jesus went, the twelve followed (it’s estimated that Jesus walked 3,125 miles during His three years of ministry). Most likely He originated the song, “On the Road Again.”
By the way “Jesus never once said ‘worship me’ but he often said ‘follow me!'” (“Breathing Under Water”, Richard Rohr)
“So I am sending you.” The church is a movement of people not a monument of bricks and mortar! Minutes before He was beamed up Jesus described the scope of the movement. “You will tell about Me … to the ends of the earth”. (Acts 1:8)
“God showed His love for us when He sent Jesus … to give us life” (1 John 4:9). Jesus was the Father’s Emergency Medical Service, dispensing the Medicine of Life: healing the dis-eased (physical, mental, spiritual, relational), rescuing the lost, mending the broken, embracing the outcast, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, befriending the lonely, promoting justice for those falsely accused, mourning with those who grieve, liberating those demon possessed, freeing the imprisoned, offering hope to those in despair.
“So I am sending you.” “The person who trusts Me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on My way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. Whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it” (John 14:12-14) The church is nothing less than a movement of ministry, doing the stuff Jesus did, so that people experience “life that is full and good!” (John 10:10)
“Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.” —Steve Jobs, addressing employees after returning (he was fired in 1985) to Apple as CEO in 1997
“You will tell about Me … to the ends of the earth!” —Jesus, CEO of the church, addressing eleven disciples just before He left the earthly scene
FACT: the Movement of Life, the church, conquered the Roman Empire in one century!
REASON: the early church was People of Passion!
My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become My disciples. (John 20:21)
In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, two college drop-outs, started Apple Computers in a garage. Both left the company nine years later. Subsequently, the company speedily spiraled downward so the Board was forced to ask Jobs to return in 1997. Four years later Apple lifted the curtain on the very first iPod. From that point Apple has grown exponentially, so that it has impacted the entire world. Get this! Upon his return Jobs addressed the employees with these somewhat prophetic words: “Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe people with passion can change the world for the better.”
Jesus said: “I will build My church.” Not surprising words from a carpenter! He first gathered personnel: “Come, follow Me.” After mentoring the crew less than three years Jesus announced His departure. The enterprise was entrusted to the Eleven with this simple directive: “Go and make disciples in all nations.” By 300 AD Christianity had, so to speak, conquered the Roman Empire when Emperor Constantine became a Christian. Though his conversion was probably more political than spiritual, it does show the inroads of the Christian faith even to the top levels of governmental power.
So, what accounts for this meteoric growth of the church in the early years? Obviously, it wasn’t personnel. By any standard the Eleven were all ragtags! To them Donald Trump would most likely have said: “You’re fired!” (Theological professionals didn’t surface until the late second century.)
Second, given the fact that the Eleven had never ventured more than 100 miles in any direction, their worldview must have been rather narrow (perhaps that’s the reason Jesus advised them to start in “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria” … places they could grasp).
Third, the company had no buildings (not until the third century according to archaeology).
Fourth, they didn’t have an authorized New Testament until the fourth century. So, Bible study, as we know it, was non-existent.
Fifth, until 325 AD there were no doctrinal standards to which one could appeal (the Lutherans, Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, Reformed, Methodists, and Assemblies of God would be out to sea in a small raft!) Just a little humor!
Get the point? Every ingredient that we view as absolutely necessary for the church to succeed was nonexistent in the early years. Inquiring minds want to know: what was the secret of the early church’s growth? Steve Jobs nailed it! They were People with Passion for a Person!
Many years ago—so long ago that I remember neither the author nor the title—I read a book that evaluated the American Church by the standard which Jesus set at His departure. The author compared the church today to an experience at Cape Canaveral, Florida. We have garnered the most brilliant space experts known to humankind. We have designed incredibly complicated and unbelievably powerful rocket launchers. We have built giant launch pads for the rockets. We have engineered complicated electronic control sites, like the Houston Space Center, capable of outer space tracking. And, to top it off, we even have a spectator’s gallery for watching a launch.
Everything is in place: the launch stage, the mission plan, the rocket, the professional personnel, the electronics and the spectators. NEVERTHELESS, “HOUSTON! We have a problem!” There’s seems to be no fuel in the rocket tanks, so it can’t be launched. According to the author the church in America can boast of literally everything except that which Jesus proposed as the goal of His operation. It’s a devastating assessment. Nonetheless, a scientific appraisal such as that done by Barna Research will prove the point. Paul seems to describe our situation in words written to Timothy: We have a form of religion but lack any power in our rocket tanks (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
What’s to be done? Our most natural and powerful response is denial. If I put our excuses in black and white, I would get sick of mind and heart. The only other response is that of REPENTANCE … A CHANGE OF MENTAL PERSPECTIVE!
I grew up in a small business so I shall use common sense parameters. For all of the time, treasure and talent invested in the enterprise of the American church, what dividends are we reaping IN TERMS OF THE GOAL JESUS PRESCRIBED? I shall state it more personally: “I am the vine; you are the branches. It is to My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, thus demonstrating that you are My disciples” (John 15:5-8). As you read this are YOU able to identify by name specific fruit on your branch? At stake is the glory of your Father as well as your identify as an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ.
God is building a dwelling place. He used the apostles … for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. (Ephesians 2:20-22)
With the arrival of Jesus, Father started to build a new home called church. Jesus is the Cornerstone—“The cornerstone of an ancient building served as an alignment stone for all subsequent construction” (Dr. Dan Hayden, A Plumb Line For Truth). The alignment of the twelve apostles to Jesus formed the foundation. All persons, subsequently connected to Jesus, are “living stones that God is building into his spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Jesus demonstrated the contour of the foundation a few hours before His death: “He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His apron. Then He said, ‘You address Me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a PATTERN for you. What I’ve done, you do.” “The MODEL for the disciples in their following of Jesus is that of the man who serves at table: ‘But I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27)” (Hans Kung, The Church).
Jesus, therefore, intended the church to be a service center of sorts. Here are some of its services:
I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave Me a room,
I was shivering and you gave Me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Today I filled out a customer survey (hopefully I’ll win the $2500 sweepstakes!). The purpose of the survey was obvious: to determine the level of customer satisfaction with services rendered. From history we know the church scored high in services rendered. As defined above it conquered the Roman Empire in two centuries without investing in any bricks and mortar. Tertullian, a third century author, observed: “The Christians’ deeds of love were so noble that the pagan world confessed in astonishment, ‘See how they love one another.’”
Jesus and His disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw Him keeping this kind of company and lit into His disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.” (Mark 2:15-17)
Born on December 9, 1969, in New York City, Jakob Dylan, the son of singer/songwriter Bob Dylan, forged a career in music as well. As lead singer and songwriter for The Wallflowers, Jakob had major hits as well as Grammy wins. He commented: “People watch [reality] shows and want to see you live a terrible life and embarrass yourself. But I’ve got a life that really matters to me, and that’s because of the way I was raised. My ethics are high because my parents did a great job.”
Like his father (Gotta Serve Somebody and Saved) Jakob has written much about the spiritual condition of humankind; specifically our need for outside help. In “Hospital for Sinners” he writes about the church as a continuing demonstration of the ministry of Jesus in our sick world. Take a listen!